Judging from the Republican presidential race and news media story lines, it’s the same old, same old in 2012: GOP candidates courting the evangelicals. Analysts offering their latest conjecture about whether “the evangelical vote” will swing to Candidate X or Y. Evangelical kingmakers gathering on a ranch in Texas to anoint the official evangelical choice to defeat the despised Democrat.

But not far below the surface, change is afoot in the ranks of a once-reliable GOP voting bloc and around that term, “evangelical.” As has been widely reported, more evangelicals are breaking formation and tackling social problems such as poverty and human trafficking that weren’t on the evangelical political agenda a decade or two ago. Even more seismic, though, is a challenge being mounted against the notion that electoral politics is the way to do God’s work in America’s public life.

In a refreshing departure from the culture war mind-set that has come to characterize this and other recent elections, some of evangelicalism’s leading thinkers and spokespeople are trumpeting an important insight: Christians too fixated on politics are bound to end up frustrated and tarnished. And politics is not the only way to create positive change.

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